MPCA seeking volunteers for Citizen Lake and Stream Monitoring Program

May 3, 2019

For more than 40 years, citizen volunteers have gathered critically important data on lakes and streams across the state. This information helps the MPCA better understand the health of Minnesota’s waters and protect them for future generations.

Citizen volunteers do not need prior experience or training. Lake monitors need access to a boat, canoe or kayak; stream monitors access their sites from a streambank or bridge crossing.

Volunteers conduct water clarity tests at least twice a month each summer at designated locations on lakes or streams. To determine water clarity, volunteers find the disappearance/reappearance point of a Secchi disk as it descends into a lake or a specially designed stream collection tube. Volunteers submit their readings at the end of each monitoring season.

Water clarity is an important indicator of lake and stream health. It signifies the amount of algae or sediment in the water, which can affect plant, insect, and fish communities and impact recreational opportunities. Long-term monitoring by volunteers can detect declines or improvement in quality of a lake or stream.

Volunteer-collected data help government agencies and municipalities make decisions on protecting and restoring lakes and streams across the state.

The MPCA uses volunteer-collected data in two important ways:

To detect trends in water clarity over time. Increases or decreases in water clarity may indicate changes in water quality on a lake or stream.

To formally assess the health of lakes and streams by comparing them to state water quality standards. Lakes and streams that fail to meet water quality standards are categorized as impaired and require restoration to improve their overall health.By volunteering you will be part of a community of citizen scientists from across the state that is passionate about water quality and focused on protecting our state’s water resources. You will also receive:First-hand knowledge of your lake or stream’s conditionAnnual online monitoring site reports detailing the data you collectProgram newslettersNotification of local watershed efforts that may affect your lake or streamAccess to experts working on water quality issues in the state

Anyone interested in signing-up to become a volunteer or to see the sights that are available for monitoring visit the MPCA website, https://www.pca.state.mn.us/cmp/enroll.

If you have further questions contact the Root River SWCD office at 507-724-5261 ext. 3.